Loose lynx captured and brought to temporary home in Smithtown

Loose lynx captured and brought to temporary home in Smithtown

Sweetbriar Nature Center’s Janine Bendicksen said the teeth of the lynx are about 2 inches long. Photo from Sweetbriar Nature Center

A lynx was captured and brought to Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown after roaming around the Town of Islip for three days.

An escaped lynx is calling Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown its temporary new home. Photo from Sweetbriar

On July 29, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and Suffolk County Police Department officials announced the capture of the lynx. It was first spotted on the loose July 26. The SCPD received a call on July 29 that the animal was seen on Hawthorne Avenue in Central Islip after a few sightings around the town. Third Precinct and Emergency Service Section officers captured it after it was tranquilized with the help of Frankie Floridia, from Strong Island Animal Rescue League, who brought the animal to Sweetbriar.

The SCPD has not confirmed who the owner of the lynx is. 

Now named Leonardo De Catprio, after he arrived at the nature center, the veterinarian examined him and found he had some parasites, ear mites and a small wound on his face and mouth, according to Janine Bendicksen, the center’s director of wildlife rehabilitation and curator. Overall, he was in good shape and estimated to be around a year old.

She said she was in the vet’s office when Leonardo was being examined. His mouth is big, she said, with teeth 2 inches long. As he was being sedated, he swatted and roared.

“It was just scared,” she said. “I’m sure it has a very sweet side, too. You just don’t know. It’s a wild animal.”

Bendicksen said Leonardo is currently not visible to the public as lynxes are nocturnal.

“It’s not something that wants to interact with the public,” she added.

A GoFundMe page organized by a Sweetbriar employee has raised more than $2,400 toward a $3,000 goal as of Aug. 3. The money will go toward the care of the lynx as well as for the specialized food he needs.

“It eats a lot,” Bendicksen said. “It’s 35 pounds now, and it’s probably going to double in size.”

The lynx Leonardo De Catprio being examined after being captured July 29. Photo from Sweetbriar Nature Center

She added owning such a pet is illegal. Lynx do not make good house pets, she said, and people shouldn’t be fooled by their cuteness.

“They’re very cute and very sweet when they are young, but when they become adults, they’re not pack animals,” Bendicksen said. “They become solitary. They become aggressive. They become territorial. They don’t want to be with their momma and daddy and family anymore. They want their own territory and do things on their own.”

The deep-wooded animals, which are not native to the area, are known to travel as far as 7 miles when they hunt, according to Bendicksen.

Eventually, the lynx will be moved to a sanctuary once an appropriate one is found. The Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are helping in the efforts to find Leonardo a new home.

“It is an unusual thing for us to have at Sweetbriar,” she said. “We deal with
native wildlife.”